Not long after being fired by the Tennessee Titans, 53-year-old Mike Munchak reportedly has agreed to become the offensive line coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
John McClain of the Houston Chronicle has the news:
Mike Munchak is going to the Steelers as o line coach.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) January 23, 2014
Munchak's foray into head coaching didn't exactly go as planned. After a 7-9 finish in 2013, the Titans went 22-26 with zero postseason appearances in three seasons under the former offensive lineman. To make matters worse, the team went 6-12 in the AFC South and just 3-20 against teams finishing with winning records during the span, according to ESPN's Paul Kuharsky.
It would be unfair to place the entire blame on him alone, though, and it seems as though the Titans were aware of that fact.
According to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, the team was reportedly willing to offer Munchak a multi-year extension so long as he made "more than a dozen staff firings and demotions."
Munchak refused, and his career with the Titans—an organization with which he had spent the last 30 years as a player and coach—came to an end. ESPN's Ed Werder noted that the 53-year-old deserved praise for his decision:
Should fired Mike Munchak be candidate for NFL coach of year after refusing an extension for himself if he fired staff he hired? #principles— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) January 5, 2014
He later talked about the situation, via The Tennessean's Jim Wyatt:
I can’t fire someone when I don’t believe they should be fired. Firing someone is awful. Too many people were going to be affected. I didn’t do anything to look like I was a great, loyal guy who went above and beyond the call of duty by not firing coaches. I did what you should do and what I thought was right. For me to maintain a job and a lot of guys lose jobs on a plan I didn’t think was right, I couldn’t do that.
It's a story that speaks to Munchak's character, and it's not surprising that he began to draw interest from around the country as soon as his name was thrown back into the pool of available head coaches.
Is this a good hire?
In an attempt to replace Bill O'Brien, Penn State was one of the first teams that came calling. But after interviewing with the Nittany Lions, Munchak was eventually passed up by James Franklin for the job.
Pittsburgh ranked tied for 27th in the NFL in rushing yards this season, averaging 86.4 per game as a team. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was sacked 43 times, tied for the 14th most in the league.
Munchak's chance as an NFL head coach didn't exactly go as planned. Nevertheless, the ensuing interest following his firing made it clear that he was still a sought-after coach in this league.
He'll now get another chance to justify those beliefs in Pittsburgh.